• LJ Laura

Want to live longer and better? Strength train

We all know that regular physical activity promotes general good health and can help you live a longer and healthier life. For many of us, “exercise” means walking, jogging, cycling or other cardio based activities that get the heart pumping.

Evidence now suggests that building in strength-building exercises to your routine could be the way to achieve longer lasting health and well-being. Once you reach your 50s and beyond, strength (or resistance) training is critical to preserving the ability to perform the most ordinary activities of daily living — and to maintain an active and independent lifestyle.

The average 30-year-old will lose about a quarter of his or her muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90. I always joke that at 80 years of age having great cardio fitness won’t do you much good if you haven’t got the strength to get out of the chair or the flexibility to tie your shoelaces. Another great bonus is that regular strength training can also help maintain or increase bone density as you age, which is important to counteract the effects of age-related osteoporosis.

What is strength training?

Strength training encompasses any of the following:

· Free weights

· Ankle cuffs or wrist weights

· Resistance (elastic) bands.

· Body weight exercises such as press ups, mountain climbers, squats, lunges, etc.

Getting Started

A beginner’s strength-building workout should be based on their current condition (always check with your Doctor before starting new exercise regimes, especially if you are seriously overweight or have any injuries). There are countless videos available on You Tube for all levels of fitness and I advise my clients to start there.

So, find some videos that you like the look of and just give it a go. Start with relatively short sessions of 15-20 minutes building to 30 minutes. If you haven’t worked out like this before or for a while, you will definitely experience some muscle soreness the next day or so. Make sure you warm up properly and stretch after the workout. Build up your sessions slowly and listen to your body. Aim for 2-3 sessions per week.

Once you have mastered bodyweight exercises you may like to invest in some resistance bands to increase the effort you exert on your muscles, these are relatively inexpensive and are available to order online. Again, there are plenty of videos available with band workouts for you to try. If you opt for free-weights, start with some light options of 1-2Kg and build up to the heavier weights as you progress.

In summary the main benefits of including strength training are:

1) Maintaining Muscle mass as you age

2) Increasing your strength

3) Improving Bone health

4) Providing Joint Flexibility

5) Reducing risk of injury

6) Improved Body Tone

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